Recognizing the signs of depression in seniors can be challenging as the symptoms can vary from, or may appear to be side effects of medication or health conditions. While over 40 million Americans have depression, it is not a normal part of aging and is a serious concern.
It can be difficult to notice the signs of depression and even harder to discuss with a loved one. That is why The Pavilion Senior Living would like to provide information regarding recognizing certain signs that may indicate depression in an older adult.
Sign #1: Changes in Sleep Patterns
One noticeable change that can be caused by depression is sleeping habits. If the senior in your life is not getting enough sleep or too much sleep, it could be a sign of depression. A person with depression can sleep for over 8 hours a night and wake up feeling fatigued, or they can have difficulty sleeping after even the most exhausting of days.
Insomnia and depression can often go hand and hand; having difficulty staying asleep throughout the night is another sign of depression. However, it’s important to note that sleep issues are not exclusive to depression. Many seniors may experience “secondary” sleep problems, meaning they are secondary to an underlying medical condition.
Sign #2: Developing Anxiety
While anxiety and depression are completely different conditions, they often coincide with one another. Anxiety can look as simple as nervousness, but it can hide under the surface of many and impacts each individual differently. Someone feeling the effects of anxiety may experience restlessness, rapid heart rate, trembling, difficulty thinking clearly or focusing, and discomfort when in social situations. If your loved one never demonstrated signs of anxiety before, developing it later in life may be an underlying sign of depression.
Sign #3: Weight Gain or Loss
Weight loss or loss of appetite is a common symptom of depression among all age groups. However, depending on how your loved one handles stress, they may experience a weight gain. Any noticeable weight shift is important to address in an older adult as it could lead to the development of other medical conditions.
Sign #4: Drastic Mood Changes
Drastic and unwarranted mood changes can be another sign of depression in a senior. If your loved one goes from happy to angry or sad in a moment’s notice, it is usually a sign of a much more serious issue than just having a “bad day.”
According to WebMD, anger and irritability are likely symptoms linked to more severe or long-lasting depression. If you are noticing increased anger in a loved one, it is important to address the concern with them, or if necessary, a professional.
Sign #5: A Lacking of Enthusiasm
If your loved one is no longer interested in their hobbies or struggles to find interest in things, it can be a sign of depression. Lack of enthusiasm is very important to recognize as it can usually hide from plain sight as your loved one’s hobbies may be something they enjoy in the privacy of their own home.
Symptoms of depression can also occur as a side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs. While mood-related side effects of prescription medication can affect anyone, seniors are more susceptible because our bodies become less efficient at metabolizing medications as we age.
Paying attention to your loved one’s habits and tendencies is important. If you are worried about their wellbeing, talk to them, and bring up your concerns. Depression can only be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional, but treatment options are available. If you found this information helpful, we encourage you to visit The Pavilion Senior Living’s blog for more information regarding senior health and healthy aging.